2020: The COVID-19 pandemic in Delta

Tsawwassen Mills mall in Delta remained open in 2020 even though almost every store was shuttered | Photo: Ivanhoe Cambridge

One in a series of four stories from British Columbian communities reflecting on how they dealt locally with the pandemic in 2020.

Things happened fast in Delta when coronavirus was declared as a global pandemic, making life difficult for residents and especially businesses in what’s turned out to be a lousy year for most.

The ramping up was noticeable by mid-March when the Western Hockey League put the kibosh on the Vancouver Giants who practise in Ladner playing any further home games, let alone travelling to a scheduled away game in Washington State where coronavirus infections were already skyrocketing.

Schools shut soon after.

Meanwhile, shoppers said they expected a complete lockdown of businesses as local grocery stores suddenly found themselves completely out of stock of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, paper towels and some food items. 

Stores were never barren, however, although limits had to be imposed on various items in what seemed like the coming of the shopping apocalypse. 

It wouldn’t be until mid-summer that stores had precious TP consistently available and limits were removed, but for many weeks stores, other than grocery outlets, were closed, while traffic was eerily quiet midday on busy corridors such as Scott Road in North Delta.

Ladner Village was a ghost town, as was the huge Tsawwassen Mills mall, which remained open even though almost every store was shuttered. 

One of the last businesses that bizarrely hung on for a while at the Mills was a Stuffy Rider outlet, while a burger joint at the mall somehow decided to stick it out for the long haul, despite people not being allowed to eat inside. 

The gradual reopening of businesses, including pubs and restaurants, was a relief, but COVID-19 infections are now in another stratosphere compared with earlier this year.

While they waited for their pubs and eateries to reopen, many Delta residents found new ways to have a good time and hang out with friends and neighbours as they congregated, with a beer in hand, at parks, parking lots, on sidewalk corners or cul-de-sacs, most keeping a social distance.

Unfortunately, that kind of congregating is now discouraged with the current public health orders.

The biggest issue now has been those who have been flaunting the rules when it comes to social gatherings, with Delta police saying they’ve been responding on a regular basis to people having house parties. 

Mayor George Harvie didn’t mince words when he expressed his indignation about a North Delta backyard house party which saw three side-by-side homes having their fences removed to accommodate the large gathering.

Delta police, meanwhile, had to squash a rumour that police are fining people travelling to other health regions.

As far as the plight of businesses, early on the city formed a COVID-19 community resilience and economic recovery support team.

That working group, which includes Delta staff, Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders from the business community, got to work right away to plan for ongoing support and come up with ideas to aid businesses.

“Shop local” has always been a big theme pushed to support Delta’s local small businesses, but that message has been intensified.

2021 can’t come soon enough.



Others in the series of four stories from B.C. communities reflecting on how they dealt locally with the pandemic in 2020:

2020: Richmond comes together as the pandemic touches the community

2020: The COVID-19 pandemic in Squamish

2020: Letter from the North Shore community